Many athletes are fiercely loyal (too loyal, in our opinion) to one pair of “all purpose” sneakers or cleats. Sure, they’re old and familiar, and the strategy might save you a little cash in the short run. But the truth is, there’s really no such thing as “all purpose” athletic shoes. While you might be able to share a pair between a couple of similar activities, different sports may place significantly different requirements on your feet and ankles, and in order to prevent injury (not to mention improve performance) you should always have the right shoes for the right sport.
A simple example is running. If you’re into running regularly, you already know the value of a good pair of running shoes, but beginners might go out in their everyday sneakers. But while walking shoes tend to be a little stiffer, running shoes need extra cushioning and flexibility to deal with the extra forces and impacts. And of course, if trail hiking is more your speed, you’ll want to go the opposite direction, toward something rugged and sturdy (although still with plenty of cushioning).
By comparison, a sport that may require you to frequently shift weight laterally, such as tennis or basketball, puts extra stress (and extra risk) on your ankles. Good basketball shoes, for example, usually have a higher top to discourage ankle twists and a lighter, flatter sole for better traction and jumping, while “true” tennis shoes or a good pair of cross trainers is ideal for tennis or aerobics.
There’s always an increased risk of injury or discomfort when you start a new activity, since your muscles and body aren’t used to it yet and require some time to adjust. Wearing the wrong shoes amplifies the problem and the risks—but even experienced athletes are putting the safety of their feet and ankles on the line if they ignore the importance of proper footwear. If the department store doesn’t have what you’re looking for, try a specialty shoe shop.
Of course, if you do wind up with an injury on the field, make sure your next call is to Harvey Danciger, DPM. With the latest treatments and technology in foot and ankle sports injury care at our fingertips, we stand ready to get you up and back in the game at full strength, as quickly as possible. Contact us online or dial 760-568-0108 to schedule an appointment.